Tuesday, March 30, 2010

India's Indigenous Light Combat Helicopter takes 1st flight

India's indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) has flown for the first time. The helicopter, which was test-flown on Monday, successfully hovered for 15 minutes.

The LCH is based on technologies developed for India's Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter.

The LCH will be equipped with missiles in addition to its nose-mounted cannon. It will be able to take out tanks and other armoured vehicles in addition to giving battlefield support to Indian military formations.

No cinema hall for 1.5 million residents of Islamabad

ISLAMABAD - Due to absence of any functional cinema hall in Islamabad, millions of entertainment-starved residents of the Pakistani capital are forced to watch foreign movies broadcasted on the Cable TV network, leading to local cinema culture’s dangerous downfall.

Islamabad’s four cinema houses, including Melody Cinema at Melody Market, Kohsar Cinema in sector G-7 and two NAFDEC cinemas on Jinnah Avenue, Blue Area, have been non-functional for more than seven years due to government’s negligence.

The 1.5 million-strong population in Islamabad is waiting for revival of cinema houses in the city to enjoy movies on big screen.

“In Islamabad people have no other option except to stay in homes and watch movies screened by the Cable TV network. The cinema going trend is still alive in the twin city Rawalpindi where the people are enjoying this entertainment,” the Daily Times quoted one resident, as saying.

Sources said that the joint project of Cinepax and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to establish a five-screen cinema house with a setup of food courts, shopping mall and health club, is in doldrums due to dismal law and order situation in the city.

The construction of the basic structure of the cinema house had been started on 10 acres of land, but investors expressed their reservations about the project following some untoward incidents, they added.

So far, 850 out of 1,000 cinema houses have been closed down across Pakistan. (ANI)

‘Love palace’ built by famous prostitute in Paris restored

LONDON - The ‘love palace’ that had been built by one of the most successful prostitutes in history has been restored to its former glory in centralParis.

The multi-million pound building, built by La Paiva, is still known by that name, and also has a restaurant with the same moniker.

The property, “number 25 of the world famous Avenue Champs Elysee” is where the self-styled Marquise de la Paiva, or ‘La Paiva’, seduced rich and famous men including English lords, while claiming to be a beautiful aristocrat.

In fact Esther Lachmann was from Polish peasant stock and made up her background while breaking into London and Paris society at the height of the Victorian era.

She married the wealthy Portuguese Marquis de la Paiva, who helped her build the Paiva mansion in 1865.

It became the scene of some of the most decadent parties in the history of Europe, complete with courtesans from all over France offering their erotic charms to royalty, statesmen and other leading figures of the day.

The diamond loving La Paiva kept a close eye on all those who entered her love palace, sometimes banning other women so she could have all the male party guests to herself.

She soon grew bored of her Marquis, divorcing him so as to marry the equally rich Prussian count Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck, who was 12 years her junior.

This enabled her to add features to the mansion, including a hand-carved staircase made of gold, marble and onyx imported from Algeria, and erotic bathrooms.

The marble bathtubs were regularly filled with milk or even champagne.

La Paiva, also known as ‘La Grande Horizontale’ - came to personify one of the most decadent periods in French history, whenParis became a centre of high-class sex and luxury living.

Her home is now set back on the increasingly commercialised Champs Elysee, next door to a Gaumont cinema and the official souvenir shop of Paris St Germain Football Club.

Since 1904 it has been the home of the Travellers Club, an elite private member’s club which only opened its doors to women during the past decade.

“Everything has been completely restored. Work has been non-stop, but the whole place has its spark back,” the Telegraph quoted Olivier du Plessis, club secretary, as saying.

“The restoration was carried out by Etienne Poncelet, chief architect of Paris’s historical monuments, using government grants. It is still know as La Paiva mansion, and has a restaurant with the same name,” du Plessis added.

When La Paiva died in 1884, her German husband kept her exquisite body intact in embalming fluid and used to cry over it every night. (ANI)

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 and Vivaz launches in India: Price, Features

NEW DELHI, INDIA — Sony Ericsson has launched the much awaited Xperia X10 and Vivaz for India. In addition, they have also announced to bring X10 Mini, X10 Mini Pro and Vivaz Pro very soon.

This marks a new era for Android handsets. While Samsung and HTC are already selling Android devices in India, Sony Ericsson, the leading handset maker will be first time into this business.

The five high-end mobile phones will be priced between Rs 25,695 and Rs 35,795 in India. Besides these five devices, Sony Ericsson will launch low-end sub-Rs 5,000 handsets as well.

Sony Ericsson, with new brand ambassador Kareena Kapoor will roll out its marketing campaign, which will be focused on digital and social networks. Consumers will experience an altogether different sides of social and digital media through their mobile phones.

Sony Ericsson is concerned about the current market share, dominated greatly by Nokia, Blackberry and Apple. In an attempt to regain their position once it hold during the time of Walkman and Cybershot series, Sony Ericsson has taken several moves. It has partnered MTV India, UTV, Shemaroo, Electronics Art Indiagames and Disney, along with some other entertainment providers.
Xperia X10 Features

Display: 4.0 inch capacitive touchscreen
Weight: 135 gms
Operating System: Android OS v1.6
Memory: 1 GB storage, MicroSD expansion slot
Camera: 8.1MP/autofocus / LED Flash
Connection: WiFi, Bluetooth AD2P
Vivaz Features

Display: 3.2 resistive touchscreen
Weight: 97 gms
Operating System: Symbian Series 60, 5th edition
Memory: 75MB internal memory, MicroSD expansion slot
Camera: 8.1MP/autofocus / LED Flash
Connection: WiFi, Bluetooth AD2P

Bodies of 21 babies found in river in eastern China

Bodies of 21 babies found in China river

BEIJING — Bodies of 21 babies have been discovered in plastic bags in a river in eastern China and authorites suspect they were dumped there by local hospitals, state media reported Tuesday.

An initial investigation showed that eight of the 21 babies wore identification tags on their feet tracing them back to Jining Medical College Hospital in Shandong province, the according to the People’s Daily Web site. The other 13 were unidentified.

Three of the eight were admitted to the hospital in critical condition, the report said. It did not say when they were admitted.

Video footage posted online showed interviews with local residents who discovered the bodies covered in plastic trash bags floating near the shore over the weekend.

Calls to the Jining Medical College Hospital information office rang unanswered Tuesday afternoon.

Some of babies shown in the video, ranging from newborns to several months old, wore bluish-green identification tags with their mother’s name, their birth dates, measurements and weight, while others were found shrouded in hazardous waste bags.

An official who answered the phone at the Jining Health Bureau confirmed the news, but would not give any details. Like many Chinese officials, he refused to give his name.

SKorea president orders military on alert after navy ship sinks; diver dies in search for crew

SKorean president visits shipwreck; diver dies

BAENGNYEONG ISLAND, South Korea — South Korea’s president ordered the military on alert Tuesday for any moves by rival North Korea after the defense minister said last week’s explosion that sank a South Korean ship may have been caused by a North Korean mine.

The blast ripped the 1,200-ton ship apart last Friday night during a routine patrol near Baengnyeong Island near the tense maritime border west of the divided Korean peninsula. Fifty-eight crew members, including the captain, were plucked to safety; 46 are missing, with dim prospects for their survival.

A 53-year-old diver who lost consciousness during the underwater mission to locate the missing crewmen died Tuesday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. A second diver was being treated for injuries, officials said.

As the search continued, divers prepared to break into the ship Tuesday, Rear Adm. Lee Ki-sik of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters. He said there were no signs of life inside.

President Lee Myung-bak flew to wreckage site to review search operations, meet with marines and console family members, the presidential Blue House said.

Baengnyeong is just eight miles (13 kilometers) from and within sight of a North Korean military base where surface-to-ship guided missiles and artillery are heavily deployed, presidential spokesman Park Sun-kyoo said.

Lee told officers South Korea must maintain its military readiness until North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons program.

“When we are strong, we can defend ourselves. If we are weak, we’ll face more danger,” Lee said. “South Korea’s military should be strong.”

Earlier Tuesday, Lee ordered his military to stay alert for any moves by rival North Korea.

“Since the sinking took place at the front line, the military should thoroughly prepare for any move by North Korea,” Lee told his Cabinet, according to his spokesman.

Military officials say the exact cause of the explosion remains unclear, and U.S. and South Korean officials said there was no evidence of North Korean involvement.

However, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told lawmakers Monday that a floating mine dispatched from North Korea was one of several scenarios for the disaster.

“North Korea may have intentionally floated underwater mines to inflict damage on us,” Kim said.

The two Koreas remain in a state of war because their three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953. North Korea disputes the sea border drawn by the United Nations in 1953, and the western waters near the spot where the Cheonan went down have been the site of three bloody skirmishes between North and South.

Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim reported from Seoul and photographer Young-joon Ahn from Baengnyeong Island. AP writers Sangwon Yoon in Seoul, photographer Lee Jin-man in Pyeongtaek and Eric Talmadge in Tokyo also contributed to this report.

Naga legislators resolve to meet underground leaders

The Joint Parliamentary Working Committee (JPWC) of Nagaland Assembly has resolved to meet leaders of different underground groups for consultation to find a 'common Naga voice' towards finding a lasting settlement to the vexed political conflict.

At a meeting chaired by speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie on Monday, the committee members discussed the current Naga peace process and adopted a few resolutions asserting that as elected representatives of the people they should facilitate the talks between the Centre and the underground groups.

The resolution, signed by Speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and opposition leader Tokheho Yepthomi, said the meeting welcomed the efforts of the UPA government and the NSCN in resuming the political dialogue.

The JPWC, formed last year with members all party hues, reiterated to support the dialogue in "our collective endeavour to bring lasting peace to our land and its people".

Lauding the signing of 'Covenant of Re-conciliation' by three underground groups and formation of Joint Working Group (JWG), it appealed to them to stop violence.

The JWG was formed by two groups of NSCN and NNC/Federal after signing the Covenant of Re-conciliation last year in Thailand.

The joint parliamentary panel also appealed for unity among the underground groups so as to facilitate "early resolution of the Naga political issue", the resolution said.

Assam MPLAD fund diverted to build Congress office, 3 arrested

Three officials in a western Assam town landed in prison on Sunday for facilitating the construction of a Congress office with funds meant for a community hall.

Anowar Hussain, former Congress MP from Dhubri constituency, had in 2008-09 released from his Local Area Development (LAD) fund Rs 3.45 lakh for a community hall in Bilasipara town.

This town in Dhubri district is 250 km west of Assam capital Guwahati.

The ‘community hall’ did come up last year. But it carried a name – Rajiv Bhavan – and began functioning as the sub-divisional Congress office.

Bilasipara Grameen Jagaran Manch, a rural NGO, subsequently filed a PIL in Gauhati High Court saying money from MPLAD fund was diverted to build an asset for the Congress. MPLAD funds, routed through local administration, are not meant for political parties.

Following a directive from the court, the police in Bilasipara registered a case (No 174/09) against Raju Ahmed, secretary of the Community Hall Construction Committee. The very day Ahmed was arrested (in December), the building sported a new signboard, and it read ‘Community Hall’ instead of ‘Rajiv Bhavan’.

“We went for a deeper probe during these past three months and took necessary action against the guilty officials,” Dhubri Deputy Commissioner Jyotindra Lahkar told Hindustan Times.

Investigations revealed the community hall was to have been set up on another plot of land 3 km from where it was established. Three officials – Jayanta Kalita, assistant project officer of Planning and Development Department and junior engineers Shahjahan Ali and Shabibur Rahman – were also found to have gone overboard in pleasing their political masters.

Kalita, Ali and Rahman were arrested Saturday night, produced before a special court on Sunday and sent to Dhubri District Jail.

Apart from MPLAD fund, Assam has had a history of misuse of MLALAD money. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General ending 31 March 2009 revealed how Kamrup district authorities had between 2004-05 and 2008-09 had created assets worth Rs 95.70 lakh on private lands.

Guidelines of MPLAD and MLALAD schemes do not provide for construction or creation of any assets for the benefit of an individual.